The Church of England apparently got in a bit of hot water with a prayer survey they’ve undertaken. Well we’re all about God of God, Light of Light, not poll of polls. And it’s very difficult to count results when you’re doing a prayer survey – a lot of people are kneeling, and you don’t know if someone’s hand in the air means they’re saying yes to your question or maybe they’re a Pentecostal.
For my book (out yesterday, Amazon link here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/So-Comedian-Walks-Into-Church/dp/0232529795/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362738146&sr=8-1, but I’d recommend the independent non-tax-avoiding Hive link here: http://www.hive.co.uk/book/so-a-comedian-walks-into-a-church-confessions-of-a-kneel-down-stand-up/16927686/), I conducted a survey too.
Its results form the epilogue of the book, but here are some nuggets that my 268 respondents told me:
49% are Anglican
30% are Evangelical
21% are Charismatic
18% are Baptist
16% are Methodist
7% are Pentecostal
4% are Roman Catholic
…Wow, add that up and that means 145% of people are churchgoers. Oh, except there’s some overlap of each category, because some are Evangelical Anglicans, and some are Roman Catholic Methodists (not many, granted). Oh, and I deliberately targeted the survey at churchgoers, so that’s why there are so few atheists and Jedis.
Descriptions of church ranged ‘growing church-plants’ (presumably like hydrangias) to High Anglican ‘bells and smells’, via ‘Anglo-Catholic mixed with Charismatic Evangelical’, ‘Post-evangelical’ and even the baffling ‘Revangelical’, which must either mean that it’s evangelical again, or that it’s a spelling mistake. Some were part of ‘church without walls’: groups in cafés, or a market traders’ church, or what one described as ‘radical panto-style’.
Some commented to me that Christianity could be let down by ritualistic ‘Sunday-only Christians’. 71% said that ‘church’ happens on Monday to Saturday, more than on Sundays. Yet Sundays were still seen as sacred: ‘I’d like ‘Happy Sunday’ to become a regular expression, like ‘Happy Christmas’,’ said one surveyee.
76% thought their church focused strongly on biblical teaching, while 19% felt it not to be a priority, with a further 5% who said the Bible was barely taught at all. The statistics were similar for sung worship and prayer.
Most said that instead, the emphases of their churches were on serving the local community and welcoming newcomers. It meant that half felt church wasn’t challenging enough, but there was a real sense that local church should be a hub of help. Some said we could go further: ‘We’re too concerned with ‘style of worship’ or the colour of the floor. We need to be serving the community around us.’
The modern need of a food bank is a topic I bring up on tomorrow’s Pause For Thought – catch it on Radio 2 at 5:45am, or more likely, Listen Again. And you can hear me further waffling about Christianity and comedy in a BBC1 documentary tomorrow (Wednesday 27th April) at 11:05pm.
One day I’ll get around to putting more of these survey results up here. For now though I’ve just got to ask: what in the world is radical panto-style church? (The devil? “He’s behind you!” “Oh no he isn’t.” “Oh yes he is…”)